A Whiter Shade of Fail

The House GOP’s Epic Miscalculation


“A whiter shade of fail,” is how Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman described the latest efforts to deny the numerical and political reality that the GOP is in “a demographic death spiral,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put it, unless the party gets behind comprehensive immigration reform in order to help get right by Asian and Latino voters.

It’s clear that some House Republicans are looking for an excuse, any excuse really, to get out of passing immigration reform with a pathway to earned citizenship. Some say they don’t have many Latinos in their gerrymandered conservative districts, so there’s no personal political benefit to them but there is potential political risk in the form of a primary from the right. Others, however, have seized on a recent analysis that purported to show that the GOP doesn’t actually need to improve its standing among minority voters if it simply manages to magically find and turn out “missing white voters.” And voila, there’s an excuse for the GOP to continue the status quo of alienating nearly every demographic segment outside of its increasingly old, increasingly white base.

Unfortunately for the GOP, this analysis was all wrong. In a post entitled, “No, Republicans, ‘Missing’ White Voters Won’t Save You,” Alan Abramowitz and Ruy Teixeira run through the numbers explaining just how wrong this “missing white voter” theory is. You should read the whole thing, but here’s their conclusion:

 So: GOP phone home! Your missing white voters have been found, and it turns out they weren’t really missing. They were simply sitting out a relatively low turnout election along with a large number of their minority counterparts. They may be back next time if it’s a higher turnout election — but then again so will a lot of minority voters. Bottom line: your demographic dilemma remains the same. The mix of voters is changing fast to your disadvantage and there is no cavalry of white voters waiting in the wings to rescue you.

The New Republic’s Nate Cohn offers additional analysis underscoring that there is no easy way out of the GOP’s demographic dilemma. Indeed, he writes that since the GOP’s gains among white voters have been concentrated in the South and Appalachia, not battleground states, current trends among white voters actually “would cement the Democratic edge in the Electoral College.” Cohn concludes, “the GOP has a tough road ahead.”

Finally, a new round of polls out today shows that voters want immigration to be addressed this year and that several House Republicans in swing districts could face a serious voter backlash if immigration reform fails.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s no easy way out for the GOP. If House Republicans decide to kill immigration reform with a pathway to earned citizenship, their chances of staying a national party with the possibility of winning the White House are likely to die along with it.

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Advocacy Team